Psychotherapy is the treatment of emotional and psychological disorders by a psychologist. Patients are encouraged to talk about deep-seated issues and fears during a one on one session with the therapist, usually in an office environment. They are then hopefully able to come to terms with their problems and overcome them. Alternative psychotherapy involves a less traditional approach than the basic office environment and offers treatments such as rituals, body-oriented activities, music and even equine assisted therapy. They all seek the same goal, which is to bring the patient back to a state of calm and well-being without drug therapy, although this may be used sometimes as a last resort.
Equine assisted therapy is just one of the alternative psychotherapy methods available to those seeking help for emotional problems or substance abuse. The program works by introducing the patient into an arena with horses and by facing their natural fears, they are able to begin the process of establishing boundaries, deal with anxiety and cope with mood disorders. The treatment goes beyond just having the patient ride a horse. It seeks to give him a sense of empowerment by accomplishing tasks he is not generally used to tackling. By having to deal with the horses, the patients are forced to face their own frustrations and fit into the horse’s rhythms.
Narrative exercises are another form of alternative psychotherapy. This involves patients creating new narratives about their lives in a truthful manner, and in a sense, rewriting the harmful narratives they have developed about themselves over the years. They are also encouraged to look at the way that social programming may have caused them to become resentful about the way they are made to feel impotent about their current positions in life. By externalizing their personal narratives, the patients are able to think more deeply about their relationship to their problems. They are also encouraged to talk about their attributes and are guided to positively alter their concept of who they are and how they fit into society in general.
Other forms of alternative psychotherapy such as music therapy and various body-orientated exercises are also part of personal healing. Music therapy can include activities such as drum circles. This form of therapy allows the person to add their creative input into an endeavor that involves a group of strangers. Body-oriented therapy, such as meditation, can help the patient to focus their attention on experiencing life in the moment, and so create a keener awareness of how they are dealing with their emotions on a minute to minute basis.